The Best Live Shows And Parades To See At Disney

July 6th, 2010


Disney offers a plethora of entertainment for guests and visitors each and every day.  One very popular aspect of Disney is it’s live shows and parades.  But how to know which ones to see and which ones to skip?  Just follow my recommendations below and you are sure to have a fantastic time.

One hugely popular live show that is well worth the admission is Down Town Disney’s Cirque Du Soleil’s La Nuba.  It is a permanent attraction in downtown Disney and is 90 minutes of soul moving, artistical performance.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios you can dance along with Buzz and Woody in the Block Party Bash.  This is a parade that makes several stops along the way, so your family is sure to get a kick out of it.

Another great one in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Fantasmic night show.  This showcases how Mickey’s dreams turn quickly to nightmares and includes Disney characters, laser lights, spectacular fountains and floating stages.

Inside the Magic Kingdom, be enthralled with the fireworks show called Wishes.  Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy narrate the moving story of the power of dreams.  This one is a definite must see.

The other must see inside the Magic Kingdom is the SpectoMagic.  It is a night time parade featuring an explosion of color and sound as a million points of light winds it’s way through the park and electrifies the night.

Also, everyday at 3pm the Magic Kingdom features the Disney Dreams Come True Parade.  This has all your favorite Disney characters dancing and singing their way through the Kingdom and the Dream Along With Mickey is one that is shown several times a day and features lots of kid friendly fun and singing outside of the Cinderella Castle.

If none of those appeal, you can check out Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade inside of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It’s a moving parade with entertainers on stilts, The Lion King’s Rafiki leading the way and joining in the fun are Mickey and Minnie, as well as Goofy and Pluto.

Epcot features Illuminations- Reflections Of The Earth for those of you into the laser lights and water shows.  A bit similar in concept to Hollywoods Fantasmic, it is still a spectacular sight to see.

At Disney’s Fort Wilderness you can enjoy a meal and a show.  The Hoop-De-Do Musical Revue is an all you can eat dinner buffet featuring fried chicken, BBQ ribs and other classic American fare, as well as lively musical entertainment.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom you can be enthralled with the latest Broadway quality Finding Nemo Musical.  It uses the new style of puppets with the puppet masters in plain view and a completely enchanting show that you must put on your to-do list.

As you can see, live shows and parades abound inside Disney World and all of it’s parks.  These are a handful of the brightest and most enjoyable and popular.  You will of course see much more than that once you are inside the parks, but this gives you a great starting point to try to help you map out your day.

The Best Kept Secrets Of Walt Disney World (Fun Stuff You May Not Know)

July 6th, 2010


Disney is full of little secrets not everyone knows about, either because it’s not advertised, or because it’s really just something pretty small for folks to pick up on.

One such little secret involves the Buzz Light Year ride.  If you hit the giant robot on the inside of it’s left hand you will gain an additional 100,000 points for your efforts.  Also, drink as much soda as you can possibly fit inside the Coca Cola Zone in Epcot.  WHY??

Another secret is there are little less traveled pathways to help you avoid heavy human traffic and can shave minutes off your time so that you can devote more of it to rides and fun. How do you find these?

Another not so secret secret is the hidden Mickey’s.  It’s up to the visitor to find them, although there is a book available to help you out a bit.

If you are staying at the Polynesian Hotel, you can lie in a hammock on the beach and see the Magic Kingdom fireworks, as well as the Water Parade.

If you go to Towns Square, there are several American flags being flown.  The main one is taken down at sunset.  The rest are left alone because they aren’t ‘real’ American flags.  They are missing a star or stripe or something that makes them fake.

Years ago, when the Pirates ride was being built, a maintenance guy named George was killed.  According to legend, he haunts the ride to this day and all the ride workers have to say ‘Goodnight George’ every night before shutting down the ride, or suffer consequences with the ride the next day!  There is also a rumor that if you yell George 3 times during the fire scene something odd might happen.  Entirely up to you if you want to test that rumor though!

Rumor has it, that the dog holding the keys in Pirates of the Caribbean and the dog in Carousel of Progress – both are old Walt’s dog.

On Splash Mountain, in front of the big drop, there is a bridge there.  When the log boats hit the bottom of the big drop, on every third one, a water cannon shoots an extra stream of water and soaks any bystanders who happen to be hanging out on the bridge.

Also inside Splash Mountain, there is a little animal that drops out of the ceiling in the cave-like room just before the last drop and shouts out ‘Go FSU!’.  The engineer who installed him was an FSU graduate.

When you go inside Tink’s Treasures, if the music is playing Tinker Bell has already been awakened.  If you go straight to the store as soon as the park opens, you can have the opportunity to wake Tinker Bell up yourself.  They give you a wand and let you tap on the treasure box and say ‘Wake Up Tink’ three times.  Then the music starts and you are awarded a certificate saying you have experienced a ‘Magical Moment’.

Inside Tomorrowland, there is a talking trash can named Push that comes out of Mickey’s Star Traders and roams around every hour for about 20 minutes or so.  There are also metal ‘palm trees’ that bloom during the day like flowers and fold up at night.

And finally, while there are many more secrets and little known facts about Disney, here is my last one for you at this time:  At the Mickey’s Toon Town entrance, near the tea cups, if you get there just before 10am, you will be escorted into Toon Town by several Disney characters personally!  How is that for a grand entrance eh?

The Busiest And Slowest Times To Visit Disney

July 6th, 2010

Disney is a great vacation, but if you can go during the slower times of year you will save yourself several headaches and maybe even a bit of money in the process.  So when are the busiest and slowest times to visit Disney?  Keep reading!

The Best And Slowest Times

September is the perfect time to visit Disney.  Anytime after labor day and you will avoid quite a bit of the crowd for a couple reasons.  For one thing it’s the start of school and parents are not keen on having their children miss the first days back to school.

Secondly, it is the start of hurricane season in Florida, so weather can be a bit of a hit-and-miss, which turns some folks off of traveling there.  Mid September is also great because that is when they have Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party after hours at the Magic Kingdom and it’s ton’s of fun for the family.

The very beginning of November is also a great time to travel to Disney, but avoid any dates after the 5th, until the end of November rolls around.   The end of November and early December is another great time to visit Disney, but avoid the value resorts as they can be pretty crowded due to National Cheer and Dance Championships.  Also make sure you are out by December 21st as it starts filling back up then.

Finally another great time to hit Disney is after New Years, into the first week of February.  Most likely it isn’t quite so busy because it’s a bit colder in Florida, and it’s right after the holidays, so take advantage!

Moderate Times To Visit

The first part of Thanksgiving week is fairly moderate as far as crowds and also the time in February and March in-between President’s week and Spring break.  After that, you can try between late April and early June before kids get out of school for the summer.

Worst Peak Times

Peak times are pretty self explanatory.  President’s week in February is a busy time, mainly because in the U.S. it is a national holiday and many schools extend the long weekend into a week long break.

Spring break for grade school kids is generally sometime between mid-March and mid-April.  This means kids are out of school for about 10 days, so that translates into Disney vacation for many families.

Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas through New Years Day is also a peak time for Disney.  Families are traveling back and forth and find that Disney is a popular place to meet up and spend some time together.

Memorial Day weekend is also an extremely busy time at Disney as folks get ready to kick off the coming summer.  And then of course, the super busy time which is summer itself.  Mid-June through mid-August is summer vacation for all school age kids. That means mom and dad are ready to hit Disney and have some fun with their families.  It is also when packages are at a premium and you will spend the most money, so if you can visit during off peak times, you will save a bundle and see a whole lot more!

Your Guide To Disney Transportation

July 6th, 2010


If you are staying within the Disney property and don’t have plans to travel outside of it, it makes much more sense to utilize Disney’s free transportation system within the property rather than spending unnecessary money on car rentals.

Disney is over 30,000 acres, so you really should be able to stay within the property and have a great time, unless there is something in Orlando you just have to do while here that is off property.  In that case, an inexpensive car rental may be the choice for you.  For this article though, I am going to go over Disney’s free transportation system as the best option for navigating the property.

Disney recently added another aspect to their transportation system called Disney Magical Express.  In a nutshell, that is just complimentary transport to and from the airport to your hotel.  When disembarking from your plane you would find the Disney Magical Express help desk at the airport. Checkin there and then wait to hop a bus to your hotel.  Expect to wait 10-45 minutes for your bus depending on the time of day.

The great thing is that they will even pick up and drop off your luggage at your hotel for you as well, so you don’t have to wait in the luggage line.  If you purchase your Disney package through the Disney site, they will send you tags to attach to your luggage, and it will go straight to the Disney bus and on to your hotel.

Now of course there are other transportation options you can use, such as vans, shuttles, cabs, and limos.  However, you can expect to pay a pretty significant amount of cash for these services, so the complimentary transportation is a nice way to avoid that.

Once inside Disney property, they are fairly good about getting people to and fro between the parks and resorts.  Outside of every resort property is a Disney bus stop and Disney buses run every 15-20 minutes.

Just be certain you double check you are on the right bus for where you need to go, as each bus is assigned to only one or two hotels and they then travel directly to a park.  That means very little stop-and-go for you.  Every bus has the park name that it serves painted across it, and you can always ask the driver if you are uncertain.

On return trips, every park has a bus stop outside of the gates, and there are numbered posts that indicate which hotel that bus goes to.  So to board, you just find the appropriate line for your hotel and wait for the bus to arrive.  Generally wait times are only about 10-15 minutes for buses.  The exception is after big shows or events, and large crowds are exiting the park at the same time.  This can cause your wait time to increase to as much as 40 minutes or more.

To travel from resort to resort, you would simply hop on the bus for the closest park destination to your hotel, and then once you arrive at the park hop on a new bus headed to the other resort.  Think of it a bit like a lay over on an air plane, or transferring flights.

In general, Disney buses begin running an hour before each park opens, and an hour after each park closes.  They also run all day about every 20 minutes, although it is possible they run a bit faster than that most days.  Regardless, despite taking a bit more time to wait for public transport, it’s a heck of a lot easier and cheaper than wasting money renting a car when you really don’t need to!

How To Take Great Pictures At Disney

July 6th, 2010


Disney is a magical wonderland and getting the perfect photo is the best way to preserve the memories for years to come.  But how do you go about getting that perfect photo?  What factors should you consider and what tricks make a great picture?  Keep reading, and I will cover the basics to help you out.

The first thing you want to think about is the type of camera you will be using.  Do you want a regular analog camera or a digital camera.  For myself, in the current day and age I would go with digital, simply because it makes sharing photos with family that much easier and less expensive.  However if you are old school you can still go with regular film.

Another option, especially if you plan on riding a lot of water rides is to buy the single use waterproof disposable cameras.  They are also great for kids, so that kids can snap their own photos and memories.

The next thing you want to consider is framing the shot well.  If you have a large group all lined up in front of Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat and you are standing back half a mile to fit them all in the shot it will not come out very well at all.  It will be hard to tell who is who!

So instead, have everyone squish together as much as you can, and get as close as you can while zooming your lens out at the widest angle possible.  Only shoot from the waist up or higher, and you will be able to not only get everyone within the shot, but it will also be much closer and a better photo overall.

Another thing to do is experiment with a bit of wide angle shots as well.  Close ups are great for family portraits and things, but use a bit of wide angle on other shots so you get as much of the Disney experience into the shot as you can.

With night photo’s it is extremely difficult to get those shots of fireworks and lights display.  You can try the night program settings on your camera and play around with flash and without flash, but don’t be too disappointed if they don’t come out great.  Also remember that when shooting people to be about 6 feet away.  The flash should illuminate, not completely wash them out.

Remember to always look at things with a photographer’s eye.  You should be framing everything and analyzing whether you think that would be a good shot or not, or if there is too much going on in the background, etc.  For instance, for sunny pictures you want to make sure you are either in full sun or full shade.  Half and half photos make the picture look odd because you now have shade dappled people.

Or if you are taking a photo of Mickey and there is a huge tree in the shot that is practically swallowing his ears, that might not be the best shot for that picture.  Also be aware of having strangers’ body parts in your family photos and get in as tightly as possible so that you have the best arrangement.

Another good tip if you are using disposable or film camera’s is to label EVERYTHING.  There is nothing worse than getting back home with a mountain of film and cameras to be developed and no idea what is what.  So label everything, pay attention to your framing and you should have some great memories to share for many years to come!